Born in Arkansas in 1918, John H. Johnson relocated to Chicago with his mother, Gertrude, to further his education after his father, Leroy, was killed in a sawmill accident when Johnson was just six years old. After graduating from DuSable High School and the University of Chicago in 1942, Johnson took out a $500 loan using his mother’s furniture as collateral to open the doors of Johnson Publishing Company.
While Johnson is identified as the visionary behind the publishing company, the structure of his business has always been heavily centered around his family. Through the years, Johnson’s wife, Eunice, co-created ventures such as Ebony Fashion Fair. His daughter, Linda, excelled in the roles of president and chief executive officer, while his son, John H. Johnson Jr., was a talented staff photographer for Ebony and Jet prior to his untimely passing at age 25. This family-centric business model has seen the company though nearly a quarter of a century.
In this photo slideshow, we reflect on the legacy of John H. Johnson, while also taking a look back at the contributions made by other members of the Johnson family to their namesake publishing company.